Rangers have seen gradual progression in the competition each season first reaching the groups was a successful accomplishment and then last season’s progression through the sections and into the knock-out phase was a huge lift.
The Ibrox side saw off Braga and then met Bayer Leverkusen in the last 16 and hopes are high for Alfredo Morelos and company to fire the club to similar stages again this season.
To do that though, first they need to negotiate a group containing Lech Poznan from Poland, Portuguese giants Benfica and tonight’s hosts in Belgium, Standard Liege.
Kemar Roofe and Joe Aribo are over the worst of their calf injuries and have travelled with the party to Belgium for the first game of the competition proper.
It’s important to set the tone for the campaign early and Rangers have avoided defeat in every group stage opener contested this century – the last time one was lost was 1999 when Valencia visited Ibrox in the Champions League.
Galatasaray was a big scalp in the play-off round, but now can Rangers maintain that 19-year tradition? Join us in our live blog with all the build-up match updates, reaction and analysis to find out.
The match in Standard Liege’s Stade Maurice Dufrasne is among the earlier tranche of Europa League games and kicks off at 5.55pm.
Standard Liege v Rangers: RECAP
Last updated: Thursday, 22 October, 2020, 17:59
- FT - Standard Liege 0 Rangers 1
(Tavernier 18 pen, Roofe 90)
- Stade Maurice Dufrasne, Liege
- Thursday, October 22, 2020
- Group D opening fixture - Lech Poznan lose 4-2 to Benfica in the other.
Hello, and welcome to the live blog coverage for Standard Liege v Rangers as Steven Gerrard’s men aim to continue a proud tradition of winning - or at least avoiding defeat - in the opening match of each European group stage this century.
What you need to know
Here’s the preview details of tonight’s game - kick-off, how to watch and who.
Rangers are in Belgium this week for the opening game of the UEFA Europa League – the third consecutive year Steven Gerrard’s side have made the sections of the tournament.
Progres Niederkorn remains the nadir, but Rangers’ European exploits recently have been cause for optimism.
Steven Gerrard has led the Gers to the group stage for a third time and Scotsman writer Stephen Halliday says there is no reason they can’t go even further.
By setting high standards in the Europa League during his first two seasons as Rangers manager, Steven Gerrard has also raised expectations.
Steven Gerrard, Rangers manager
"I think it would be a real big victory, but the players are going to have to work ever so hard to get that victory. Standard Liege are a good team with a good coach. They have a real aggressive way with how they press and a strong pedigree in Europe with a strong home record. "We're under no illusions this is going to be a real tough night but we come here in a good place.
Rangers in Belgium
This is only Rangers’ fourth trip to Belgium on European duty.
They’ve met Liege once before and that didn’t end well…. but the season did. Indeed every one including a journey to the country has ended in silverware at Ibrox.
Heavily beaten the last time they met Standard Liege away from home almost 60 years ago, infrequent trips across the channel to Belgium still hold positive parallels for Rangers - with or without fans.
Steven Gerrard’s selection is still awaited, but it won’t be far off.
Davis or Jack, Helander or Balogun, and will Hagi be in, could be the main talking points over his selection.
Kemar Roofe and Joe Aribo are with the group in Belgium too in a boost to the Gers options.
But the Belgians don’t have their problems to seek with positive COVID cases among the squad forcing three players to miss out.
Rangers trained at Ibrox yesterday before heading out for the trip.
Among the players were Kemar Roofe and Joe Aribo who have both shaken off their injuries to take a place on the plane.
As well as prestige, progression in Europe has brought Rangers some important income.
Steven Gerrard believes continued Europa League progress holds the key to his ambitions of making further improvements to the Rangers squad.
It’s out and there’s a start for Leon Balogun and Ianis Hagi
“Thought he would have rested more players. Guess they must be fresh after the easy game at the weekend.”
Read more reaction from the team line-up here
'Balogun has shown enough to give us confidence': Rangers fans react to Steven Gerrard's team line-up in Liege
Steven Gerrard selected Leon Balogun ahead of Filip Helander, drafted Ianis Hagi in for Brandon Barker and switched Steven Davis and Ryan Jack for the match against Standard Liege.
The manager has spoken about the changes he’s made to the starting line-up
Filip Helander has a kick and Leon has looked good in training. Ianis Hagi has Belgian experience
Ianis Hagi missed the weekend but he has been drafted back into the Rangers team for this game - a return to Belgium where he spent a year in Genk. He spoke last night about the mentality needed amongst the players and his Old Firm omission at the weekend.
Circumstances have now conspired on two occasions to prevent Ianis Hagi fulfilling his ambition to play in an Old Firm match.
Fans are allowed in to the Stade Dufrasne for this evening’s game, but only a few.
The local authorities have permitted around 3000 into the 27,000-seater stadium - Standard had hoped to have around 8,000.
Of course there are no Rangers supporters present - and it’s unlikely there will be any for the return leg too.
Teams are out
Rangers are in the white away kit for the match against Les Rouches - who are in their dark coloured kit
The Gers wore it with some success in Aberdeen against another team in red - Ryan Kent’s goal on the opening day of the SPFL Premiership was enough for a win.
And it’s Kent who gets the group stage underway.